Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Columbia Publishing Course, Day 4

Lectures: 9 a.m.-noon, from Peter DeGiglio (Bloomsbury) about the math of publishing. This was incredibly intense and also fascinating. He crammed about six months' worth of learning into three hours. Profits, losses, printing, costs, royalties, cuts...amazing. Actually, the most amazing part is that he explained everything in words even I, who became a librarian because I was told there was no math, could understand.

2-4:30 p.m.: Agents' panel, with Scott Moyers (Wylie), Ira Silverberg (Sterling Lord) and Amy Williams (McCormick & Williams). When you're moving from librarianship to publishing, something I see much more in reverse, the obvious thing is to go into school and library marketing. I am not opposed to this, but what I think I really want to do is agent. These three speakers were very inspiring, knowledgeable and funny but also serious about their business. Listening to Amy Williams talk during the sherry hour after the session was enlightening and reinforced my want to agent. But I'm not applying for her assistantship because her agency doesn't sell YA or MG.

7:30-9:15 p.m.: Sloane Crosley, publicist for Vintage Books and author of I Was Told There'd Be Cake. She read from her book and talked about publicity versus marketing, and what it takes to be part of a great publicity department. Very funny, relaxed, and I would love to spend a day just following her around at her job.

Thoughts from today's lessonss:

- I am rethinking book bloggers. Not in terms of publicity but in terms of math, and in terms of how important bloggers think they are versus how important they actually are, which is a question that has two different answers depending on whether you're discussing children's or adult literature. But the thing is, I might not ever get around to actually blogging about this because, well, I'd rather blog about books than blog about blogging about books.

- I might be the only person here who has no desire to ever write a book. I find I am only passionate about other people's books. But I suppose that's what makes for a good editor or agent, right?

Some math I forgot to mention: Given the number of titles published in a year, it would still take Harriet Klausner quite a number of years just to read all the books published in 2009 alone. Makes me feel a little better to know that "so many books, so little time" is scientific fact.


cupcakewitch said...

Hey! So nice meeting you the other night at neil gaiman/amanda palmer. you have no idea how many hits my blog has gotten from people searching "are amanda palmer and neil gaiman dating?" after i posted my review.

sounds like an interesting course! going from librarian to agent doesn't seem that much of a stretch either. i will be following your progress!

Liz B said...

re book blogs: all depends on what "important" means.

if it means booksales? no real proof and the numbers involved there make it, IMHO, impossible for someone to say that blogs = sales

if it means showing there are readers despite reports in the news to the contrary? value there, definately.

if it shows what people are reading? yes, but obviously only for a segment of readers -- those with time & resources for blogging. so for example no-one should say "no one reads street lit because these blogs don't talk about it"

wheelmaker said...

I'm really enjoying your dispatches from the CPC! I'm a Radcliffe Pub Course alumnus, so it'll be interesting to see what has changed (or not) over the years.

Carlie Webber said...

cupcakewitch, it's funny, I thought it was patently obvious they were dating, but I guess maybe it wasn't?

The course is great so far, it's just a lot of information (I'm in class 9 hours a day or so) in not a lot of time. I mean, I know I signed up for that, but it's crazy. In a good way.

Liz: I'm thinking about both the things that can be measured, like the cost of producing an ARC vs its sales, and the intangible, like buzz and the book finding its way to the right readers (which should show up in the numbers, right?). I have more that won't fit in a comment.

wheelmaker, are you hiring? Sorry, I couldn't resist asking.

Liz B said...

blogging is very much "brave new world"ish in that it's really impossible to know.

that said, I would LOVE a post about the maths of publishing, including sales (what percentage is library sales? online? bookstore?) both in terms of $$ and of numbers (ie money made versus number of books sold).

wheelmaker said...

Carlie - I don't think we are (though it seems like there's often turnover in editorial), but I'm at a publisher instead of an agency.

Carlie Webber said...

I'm definitely not opposed to editorial! I can wield a red pen with the best of them. Email me, if you're so inclined?